1 [see Lamp for the Latter Ages 2]
I have carefully read your letters.
I have heard that because of Jishin's statements concerning the teaching, people of Hitachi and Shimotsuke have, in their saying of the nembutsu, changed utterly from what I had for long years been given to understand. This deeply saddens me. People who had been saying for many years that their birth was firmly settled have, in the same manner as Jishin, all spoken falsehoods; having deeply trusted them for many years, I am profoundly shocked by it. For shinjin that is the cause of birth is to be wholly free of any doubt, and it is this that is the complete settlement of birth. Concerning the nature of shinjin, I have learned from the Master of Kuang-ming temple that after true shinjin has become settled in us, even if Buddhas like Amida or Sakyamuni should fill the skies and proclaim that Sakyamuni's teaching and Amida's Primal Vow are false, we will not have even one moment of doubt. Thus I have spoken for long years. In spite of this, at the words of a person like Jishin, the nembutsu practicers of Hitachi and Shimotsuke all were shaken at heart and went so far as to cast away all those wholly dependable, authoritative writings which I exhausted my strength in copying out in great numbers to send to them. Hearing of this, I know it is useless to speak about details.
To begin, I have never heard such statements as Jishin's or even the terminology he uses, much less learned them; hence, what he says cannot be something I taught him privately. Further, I have not instructed Jishin alone, whether day or night, in a special teaching, concealing it from other people. If, while having told Jishin these things, I now lie and conceal it, or if I have taught him without letting others know, then may the punishment, first, of the Three Treasures, and of all the devas and benevolent gods in the three realms of existence, of the naga-gods and the rest of the eight kinds of transmundane beings in the four quarters, and of the deities of the realm of Yama, the ruler of the world of death - all be visited on me, Shinran.
From this moment on, I cease to regard Jishin as my son. He is spreading incomprehensible lies and absurd statements about secular matters as well; hence, not only regarding religious matters, but regarding secular matters also, there are a countless number of appalling statements. Among them, these statements concerning the teaching are particularly incomprehensible to hear. I have never heard or learned such things. It is utterly astounding and saddening. In abandoning Amida's Primal Vow, people have followed [Jishin], and they have asserted me to be a person who tells lies. It is lamentable and deplorable.
It is deplorable to say that many nembutsu practicers, even while reading Essentials of Faith Alone, Self-power and Other Power, On the Afterlife, Once-calling and Many-calling, Notes on 'Essentials of Faith Alone', and Notes on Once-calling and Many-calling, should have abandoned Amida's Primal Vow because of Jishin's statements on the teaching. Such letters as you have sent need not be discussed from now on.
However, Words on the True Essence of the Pure Land Way, which you have written, does not in the least depart from what I have said, so I am very pleased. I accept this writing and will keep it with me.
Further, I have never met a person named Aimin-bo. I have never written a letter to him nor have I received one from him. It is alarming that he is saying he possesses a letter of mine.
His claim that I have written and sent him Essential of Faith Alone is appalling; such a letter should be burned. It is altogether lamentable.
Please show this letter to the others.
Fifth month, 29th day
Reply to Shoshin-bo
Further, the profession of the people of nembutsu that their shinjin was completely settled was indeed all empty. It was foolish of me to have trusted for many years the words of people who are thus abandoning the Eighteenth Vow. Since this letter need not be concealed, please do not fail to show it to the others.
3 [see A Collection of Letters 10]
A man known as the lay-monk Shimu, and another named Shonen-bo have come to Kyoto from Musashi province to serve as court guards. I met with them. Since they said they were devoted to the nembutsu, I thought it was an especially happy and splendid thing. I understand that you gave them guidance. I am indeed deeply happy. By all means please further encourage the people and speak to them there so that their shinjin does not undergo any change. In addition to the Vow of Amida Tathagata, we have Sakyamuni's admonition. Further, we have the witness of all the Buddhas, countless as the sands of the Ganges throughout the ten quarters. Although I thought that [their] shinjin would not change, it has changed in various ways; this is especially lamentable. Please make efforts to encourage the people.
Ninth month, 7th day
To: Venerable Shoshin-bo
I had heard various things concerning the lawsuit involving the nembutsu, but on receiving the account of these men [who have come to Kyoto] that you are relieved with the resolution of your problem, I am particularly gladdened and happy. It is impossible to express myself in detail. As long as I am alive, I will continue to write to you.
5 [Biographical notes]
6 [see Lamp for the Latter Ages 3]
1997 copyright Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha